Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Day

Christ has no body now on earth but yours; no hands but yours; no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which He looks with compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which He walks to do good. Yours are the hands with which He blesses all the world.

- St. Teresa of Avila 1515 – 1582

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Matthew 1:18-25 

Handing out gifts at St. John's Rehab
Mary was called by God to provide hospitality for the Messiah at great risk to herself, for she could have been stoned to death for the sin of adultery. Joseph was called by God to provide room in his heart for Mary, to give her a home and the protection of his name. He was risking his own reputation for the sake of Mary. How are we being called to provide hospitality in our time and place when so many people are homeless or don’t feel they belong? -- over 20 million refugees seeking a place of safety; LBGT’s still seeking acceptance; aboriginal people seeking a sense of belonging to their own culture; young people seeking meaningful work related to their level of education; elderly people desiring to feel useful.

We too are being called to find room in our hearts for God — Emmanuel: To see Christ in those who are hungry and thirsty; to welcome the stranger, clothe the naked and visit the sick and those in prison. Jesus said: “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” As we reach out in love and compassion to those around us, we are providing hospitality to those in need; we are ministering to Christ and at the same time being Christ’s hands and feet to the lost and the lonely.

Sr. Elizabeth Rolfe-Thomas

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

 John 14:23-27 (NRSV)

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. John 14: 27

On this day 2000 years ago Joseph and Mary must have been traveling by donkey on their way to Bethlehem for the birth of their first child.

Traveling – hasn’t this been part of all our lives? For my husband and me leaving our family in the United States and traveling to Canada so that he might serve as a priest on both sides of the border has become as familiar to us as getting dressed each day. However, it is not an easy task when a granddaughter says, “Please stay just a little longer”. This is what the apostle said to Jesus when he told them that he was going on a journey - a journey back to his Father.

Just as we leave our children in the protective hands of a person to care for them, Jesus left the disciples in the care of the Holy Spirit. Just as we say “Don’t argue, and love one another,” Jesus said the same to the people he left behind.

I believe that during this season of Advent we should reflect on the tasks he asks of us – love one another and remember that he said “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Do not be afraid.”

This is our journey, our hope, and our faith, knowing that God is with us forever in all of our travels.

 Lynne van der Hiel

Monday, December 21, 2015

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

 Isaiah 53: 1-6

The controversy over the reading from Isaiah is one of perspective. Jewish scholars relate the speech of the “Suffering Servant” to the Nation of Israel, while Christian scholars hear the premonition of a suffering Christ. The beauty of scripture is that despite the factual context and timeline of the voices, they reveal and speak to core issues of humanity. The teaching moment comes when we identify the core issue and then ask ourselves can I relate to this from experience, is it relevant in our current culture or our global ethic? Undoubtedly, disenfranchisement, oppression, and suffering remain perennial human issues, timeless in their impact on many each day of their lives. One common thread of these issues is boundaries; walls of fear, hatred, and ignorance erected in one heart against another, in one culture against another, in one country against another. The boundaries once erected then need to be defended; the result is suffering on both sides.

Sufi mystic Rumi once wrote, “Out beyond ideas of wrong doing and right doing, there is a field. I will meet you there.” This vast field of possibility, a meeting place of peace, begins in your heart then expands ever wider with each relationship you are willing to participate in on equal ground. We can all meet on that vast field, with hearts committed to openness, until our world becomes a place of an ever-expanding consciousness of peace. It all starts with you.

Kathryn Tulip

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Monday, December 21, 2015

 Isaiah 26:1-9 

Awaiting the Messiah, the Child to be born, we prepare for His coming and we anticipate that day with hope, joy and love. 

How do you prepare yourself, O my soul? It is not enough to know the truth; you must guard the truth and keep it. Many have been in conflict with others as they claim to be defending the truth: that is ungodly zeal. Beware of that. But the words of the Prophet Isaiah teach you to “guard the truth … lay hold of the truth and keep peace” (Is 26: 2,3). The Truth is that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who came in the flesh into our world to reconcile all things unto Himself granting us His eternal peace. O my soul, you know Him, so guard this knowledge, hold fast to Him and His words and keep peace with yourself and with others; peace with those far and near … peace with enemies and friends … peace with all.

Preparing my home for Christmas includes sweeping, washing, choir practice and decorating with special ornaments. Likewise, my soul, your preparation for His coming requires emptying and filling.   

Emptying the heart and the mind of falsehood, and filling them with the Truth of who He is: the King of Peace, the Way, and the True Light.

Emptying the senses of worldly pleasures, and filling the mouth with the ancient song of Isaiah: “Behold, we have a strong city; He will make our salvation its surrounding wall.” (Is 26:1)

Emptying my time of vain occupations and distractions, and filling it with acts of charity, reconciliation, forgiveness, and kindness: “O Lord our God, grant us peace, for You render everything to us.” (Isa 26:12)

Mervat Iskander

Saturday, December 19, 2015

PEACE Sunday, December 20, 2015

 Isaiah 9:6-7

For unto us a child is born......

The strings start, then the sopranos come in followed by the tenors and before I can even line my fingers up on the computer keyboard to work on my meditation, the rest of the choir has joined in and I have a full blown performance of Handel's Messiah playing in my head. (The theme for this week is peace so it's a good thing the Hallelujah chorus with it's tympani part is part of the Easter section of the Messiah!)

For many years as a youngster, I remember my dad conducting Handel's Messiah at our cathedral. It was no small affair, choir, soloists and full orchestra. I'm not sure if the orchestra was paid in those days, but I do remember that the musicians loved to take part year after year. The most memorable performance was the year the bass player had a paying job later on the night of the performance but he didn't want to miss playing for Dad. He played the first half and had a friend step in for him after the break. One of them was tall and dark and the other was stockier and had shocking red hair and a full red beard. They could not have been anymore different. I don't know if the audience noticed the change but certainly the members of the choir and orchestra did!
....Unto us a son is given”

A child born and a son given. Consider the difference?   

  Chris Hooker

Friday, December 18, 2015

Saturday, December 19, 2015

 Psalm 126 

I believe that this psalm is written to help us discover the secret of joy! The Message translation of the first couple of lines of this psalm reads “It seemed like a dream, too good to be true, when God returned Zion’s exiles. We laughed, we sang, we couldn’t believe our good fortune.” Laughter and God – Joy and God go together! Joy is the result of being restored by God, happy because of what God has done for us. “When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion” (NRSV) – when God brought back God’s people to where they should have been all along … we are brought back to who we were designed to be: God’s very own beloved. Restored to our very own self, we can only be filled with laughter and with shouts of joy! This psalm goes to the very heart of God’s relationship with us. God’s beloved. We are loved with an everlasting love; we are called by name and God speaks “You are mine, my beloved” over and over again. It is from this bedrock that joy springs – it is from this bedrock that you and I are invited to live.

Whatever our temperament, whatever our situation is it not true that we all desire to have a constant joy that is so amazing and so obvious that people around us begin to want to become part of the experience? And again to the psalm and the Message translation: “We were the talk of the nations – God was wonderful to them! God was wonderful to us; we are one happy people”.

The psalm develops a model of praying for this gift of being restored. From the Message translation, verse 4: “And now, God, do it again - bring rains to our drought stricken lives” – like streams in the desert. Josh Moody wrote about this model of prayer outlined for us in psalm 126 - “joy begins with humility, admitting that we need restoring; it is discovered in community; it celebrates gospel perspectives – good news; it is nurtured in prayer; it is acknowledging a God-centered you – a new creation …”
Joy – it is a choice: we choose whether to value God’s presence and promises and work in our lives. Choice invites us to open our eyes to God’s presence around us. Choice invites us to be filled with joy.

Sr. Doreen McGuff, SSJD

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Friday, December 18, 2015

1 Peter 1:3-9 

The word that jumped out at me was "new". What is new this Christmas for me? My first thought was to think about a small child. Yes, Christmas for a child is coloured by the expectation of presents, Santa Claus and so on, but I remember my daughter telling me that as a small child she used to lie on the couch in the dark and look at the lights on the Christmas tree in joy and wonder. As she grew older she lost that.

Like her as we grow older do we lose that joy and wonder? As the passage continues, Peter talks about suffering various trials and our faith being perishable and "tested by fire". Christmas is no longer "new" for us. We bring to it all the hurts of Christmases long past, memories, good and bad. Each year we hear the familiar readings and sing our favourite carols.

So what will be new this Christmas? How can we "rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy"? Jesus was born in a stable in less than desirable circumstances, in fact in the midst of life. In all the hustle and bustle, the busy preparations, let us, with the shepherds take time to step aside for a few moments each day to look at the lights, to hear the angels, and give thanks for the joy and wonder as we celebrate anew the birth of Jesus.

Jean Gandon

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Thursday, December 17, 2015

 Philemon 4 -7 

Hospitality is creating the space for yourself or another to meet Christ. Paul was faced with the challenge of creating space to meet a fellow prisoner who had wronged Philemon, a friend of his. How easy it would have been for Paul to “write off” Onesimus as a criminal and have nothing to do with him. Instead, Paul chose to open his heart with God’s grace of hospitality and we are now witness to Paul’s joy in this scripture as he witnesses the Holy Spirit changing Onesimus’ heart and probably his own.

Paul’s joy could not be contained. Paul also knew hospitality does not judge. Hospitality welcomes the other to begin the process of reconciliation. He let the joy of God in his heart help open Philemon’s heart to receive Onesimus as a changed man in Christ and be reconciled and live as Christian brothers.

Joy also grounded Paul in his conviction of the change in Onesimus. He trusted his experience. In turn, Paul was able to speak with conviction and forthrightness to Philemon trusting the Holy Spirit to speak to Philemon’s heart.

Hospitality is essential if our spiritual life is to be enlarged and whole. Providing hospitality or making room in our hearts to see Christ in ourselves and in others in joy, provides further hospitality in our spiritual practice. Hospitality both heals and holds us together.

Who do you need to be hospitable to today? What can you do to open your heart?

Sr. Brenda Jenner, SSJD

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Philippians 4:4-9 

I love this passage because it provides me two favourite ways to relate to my Dear Divine Friend: one, as an imaginary phone call, and the other as directions for what to do when in doubt. This is what I mean…

ME: Hey, DDF it’s me. You can’t believe the day I’ve had. Everything has been so hard lately, and I’m so tired.

Rejoice in the Lord always –

ME: Seriously, you’ve got to be kidding – after what they said and did, and what I said and did… there’s no way…

- again I will say, Rejoice.

ME: What does that even mean? Rejoice –yeah, yeah to take delight. Whatever, but to do this for this day would require superhuman effort on my part, it would be painful to do…

Let your gentleness be known to everyone.

ME: Really?? And how might that work, exactly… I don’t know how I could do that and be okay.

The Lord is near. 

ME: Yes, but I’m still worried. I don’t know how in the world it will turn out.

Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer …

ME: I know, I know pray and let God in… I know, but still…

Let your requests be made known to God.

ME: But I want to know what will happen. I want to know it will be okay! I want to not be afraid. How do I do that? How will I keep myself from spinning out? What can I do instead of worrying?

Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me …

ME: And I won’t be worried?

and the God of peace will be with you.

ME: Oh, I feel my shoulders drop… I am feeling better… Thanks for listening… Love you…

Margaret Moore

Monday, December 14, 2015

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Matthew 13: 44-46 
In his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” Matthew 13: 44

The eyes open wide…the heart quickens…the body tenses with anticipation. What can this be? There is always an allure and mystery about hidden treasure. Here at the moment of laying eyes on the treasure, there is absolute, sheer joy, the nano-second of recognition that what has been revealed is awe-some, pure Truth and must be had at any price. Jesus asks whether we are willing to give up everything to claim the treasure. In reality we cannot buy the field for we have nothing to offer to God but ourselves.
What are the times in your life when you have glimpsed the treasure put in front of you by God?
The second man is on a journey. He knows and recognizes a priceless pearl for that is his trade in life. He is willing to give up everything he owns to buy that pearl. We too are on a journey. We believe in the existence of the priceless pearl. We are willing to continue to search in order to find it.
When have you recognized the pearl in your life and are you willing to give up everything to have it?
Whether by the grace of God we unexpectedly come across the treasure/pearl or whether we diligently search through the inner fields of silence and solitude, chastity and celibacy, the Scriptures, Baptism, or Eucharist can we say that we joyfully desire God above all else?

Doreen Davidson

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Monday, December 14, 2015

Psalm 71: 17 – 24 
In 1986 I was a pilot with the Canadian Air Force and was put in charge of a search for a missing light aircraft with two people on board. During the search two of the searching aircraft, one military and one volunteer civilian aircraft, crashed killing all 11 people.
There are many words that are antonyms of JOY and for over ten years I suffered from most of them, primarily grief and depression. I also developed several other problems both physically and mentally. Since I was no longer useful to the Air Force I was released with the primary symptoms of major depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). As a result I continued to spiral downward.
Then two things happened, I was placed under the care of a different psychiatrist and I began discernment as an Oblate. After a long struggle and although I still face both physical and mental issues, I began to experience joy in my life once again.
My entire reading seemed to be meant for me but two verses stood out.
Psalm 71:20 You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again; from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again.
Psalm 71:23 My lips will shout for joy when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have rescued.

As we journey through advent, remember the difficult journey made by Mary and Joseph, and then their joy at the birth of Jesus.  

Nora Bottomley

Saturday, December 12, 2015

JOY Sunday, December 13, 2015

 Psalm 51: 10 – 12 

It’s the third Sunday of Advent; our theme for the week is joy. Are you feeling joyful and open to the coming of the Christ Child? If so, thanks be to God!
But Christmas is more, or perhaps less, than the birth of our Lord and Saviour, just as this season of Advent is more, or rather less, than the expectation of Christ’s return. In this most secularized of religious seasons, our society exhorts us not to prayer and thanksgiving, but to buying and spending, cooking and eating, more and more and more and more. The pressure on everyone to “love,” to “give,” to “enjoy” is so strong that for many, Advent and Christmas have become the worst rather than the best of times. Suicide rates are higher, depression soars, family tensions increase, and we find ourselves frantic and grasping rather than joyful.
What is the answer? Brother Lawrence suggests that we practice the presence of God in all that we do, however mundane and, at this time of year, however desperate or frenzied the pace. And the psalm tells us what to ask for:
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence,
and do not take your holy spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and sustain in me a willing spirit. 

Ps. 51.10-12 NRSV

And to quote our Lord and Saviour: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find” (Mt. 7.7); ask for peace, ask for presence, ask for prayer, ask for joy. It shall be given you.

Sr. Sue Elwyn, SSJD

Friday, December 11, 2015

Saturday, December 12, 2015

1 John 4: 7-12

As a child (though my feet and hands weren’t always coordinated) I loved attempting the challenging clapping-while-skipping steps that accompanied the school yard song “Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy.” According to the Urban Dictionary, among the 20 words related to this nonsensical rhyme are these: “Simple”. “Cinchy”. “Straightforward”. “Bob’s yer uncle”. Bob’s yer uncle? Yes, well, the rhyme and related words seem to suggest that the task being attempted is not only uncomplicated but also do-able.

It’s believed that St. John’s first letter, penned between 95 and 110 AD to Christians living in Ephesus, was a response to “docetism”, a teaching which maintained that Jesus did not come “in the flesh” but was only a spirit. The major themes of the letter are love and friendship with the Divine, both of which call believers into relationship with God expressed in community. Easy peasy, right?
While John’s logic may be straightforward, the living out of love is seldom cinchy or simple. Love is sometimes complicated – messy even, but what makes it do-able is the relationship we encounter in Christ. Our love is in response to the love shown us by the very One who did come “in the flesh”, sharing our human nature, living, loving, and dying as one of us, reconciling us to God – and to one another.

By the way, the phrase "Bob's your uncle" can be used interchangeably with "easy when you know how”. We’ve been shown how, by Jesus, who came to love the world back into wholeness.

Frances Drolet-Smith

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Friday, December 11, 2015

1 John 3:16-20
Let us love with actions....”
Someone's bound to ask you what you got for Christmas. Perhaps you'll tell them you had a lovely bouquet of flowers, a special box of your favourite chocolates, or a book you have been hoping to read. Will you tell them you were gifted with the best gift anyone could ever give you? Will you say that God loves you so much that, again this Christmas, He gave you the ultimate gift, the gift of His Son....the gift of Love? We might amass our little pile of gifts and marvel how much we must be loved to have been so richly gifted. We might wonder how best to put these gifts to use. We could invite a neighbour in to enjoy the flowers, share the chocolates with friends, and the book, we will read and pass on to a fellow reader. Will we look upon the gift God gave us, the Baby Jesus, and marvel at the love He brings into our hearts? Today, we read in 1 John 3:16 to 20 that the greatest act of love was that of Jesus laying down His life for us. Real love is in taking action, not in just talking about it. Love is reaching out to others. Will we dare to ask God to show us opportunities to reach out to others? Will we ask Him to help us dare to share His love in unexpected moments? Will we pray for a spirit of love toward others?
To give one's life is the ultimate gift, but few of us are asked to do so. Let us serve others with no thought of receiving anything in return. As we love and serve others, we find ourselves entering more deeply into God's love for all of creation.

 Carolyn Madely

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Thursday, December 10, 2015

1 John 3: 1-3 
Advent has hardly begun and here we are close to the end of the second week. Our Journey has hardly begun and it is already half over. Where does the time go?

I can remember when I was a child, waiting for Christmas to come and believing that it would never arrive. As an adult it seems that one celebration runs quickly into another. There are still 24 hours in a day. When did those 24 hours become shorter?
Of course, 24 hours are still just that, 24 hours. Perhaps the difference comes in the way we view those 24 hours.

As I watch my great niece and nephew playing (they are seven and five), I note that they are fully present to the moments they are in. Generally speaking they do not live in anticipation of what will happen next, they simply live. They live in freedom and trust. In freedom and trust, knowing they are loved and cared for, they simply live. They naturally have what I as a monastic am striving to attain. I strive to live simply so that I can learn to simply live.

In 1 John 3:1, we hear these words, “See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are.” God’s love invites us in this season to investigate the ‘God child’ within us. We are encouraged to take the hand that remains present in trust, with the knowledge of secure love, to the moment. It is in that moment, as it is in this season that we will become reacquainted with the Christ child.

Sr. Debra Johnson, SSJD

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Ephesians 3: 14 – 21 
Many years ago I adopted a dog who had been shuffled among members of a family, only to end up tied to a post with ropes binding her snout. When Animal Services arrived, they discovered an almost lifeless body and immediately surrendered her to a breed-rescue group; the dog’s desperate situation proposed death as the only apparent solution. But I found her there, and our lives became forever joined through God's love. In gratitude, she became a visitor to hospitals and seniors' homes, sharing her love. When God called her, I let her go peacefully, into His loving hands forever.

In this passage, we see Paul’s instruction to discover within ourselves the power of God's love, and the directive to help others in any way we can imagine. How often do we say the prayer "Glory to God whose power working in us can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine", looking into the eyes of those next to us? How many people can do this with an honest expectation of aid to those in need?

Paul, when he adopted Onesimus, a slave and convicted thief, converted and nurtured him knowing that he would return to Philemon eventually, having earned his freedom through study and service. Our world should recognize that the thousands of migrants fleeing religious persecution and violence in their homelands need to be adopted and nurtured, not fenced out. God's power is in our hands to fashion productive and innovative solutions to the crises we are facing. In this time of Advent, can we not share God's glory with others who are clearly in need of our help? Can we not do this in any way that we can ask or imagine?

Sue Ann Elite

Monday, December 7, 2015

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

1 Corinthians 1: 26-31 
We are experiencing trying times for millions of people. Heartbreaking images reveal the debris of hatred and depths of loss. Hope for peace has been frustrated by the mire of worldly wisdom, power and privilege. Today’s reading asks us “to consider your own call” in the midst of such times as these. We are in great need of God’s grace to penetrate the heartbeat and footprint of our lives together. Though we may be as nothing by worldly evaluation, humility is the courage to be gratefully engaged as God’s vessel. We are called to reveal in our lives what God makes known through the Spirit. In dark days we offer the possibility of Love.

Let us consider our calling –
in following Mary’s journey
in willingness and trust;
in receiving the grace of God

Let us consider the depths of our compassion –
to judge less and listen more;
to welcome our lowliness and need
to be a mutual gift to one another.

Let us consider making room in our hearts –
for God’s formation in our lives
for wholeness, for holiness
for patience and courage
for God’s Desire to be born in us.

May this Advent bring a fresh openness to the gift of humility. May God’s calling bring us peace.

--Dorothy Dahli

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Monday, December 7, 2015

Romans 13:8-12

“Owe no one anything,” is a reasonable proverb for daily living, but paired with the clause, “except to love one another,” challenges us to live and love as Christ did.  I can be in debt to you and owe you money, or need to return a favour; a debt of this sort is something that I can pay back and be finished with forever.  If we consider “love one another” as a debt we owe to one another, there is no measure by which we can tell if it is ever fully repaid.  Likewise if love is a debt to others, then love isn’t something that I can bestow only upon the favoured few; my family and friends, for that is arrogance.  Instead, I am a debtor who owes everyone this love and I must offer what love I have to my neighbour.  The miracle of giving away our love is that when we pour out it out from our hearts towards our neighbour, then more love flows in, and the more we grow into the image and likeness of the One who first loved us into being.

But not only do we need to love our neighbour but also the Earth too and see what we can do to realize that we are debtors to the world God made and loves.  Think of how we recklessly extract resources from the earth as if we owned them.  Look at each person you encounter today and at the world around you and say to yourself, “I owe you love,” and then offer them the love you have.  You can be assured that more love will pour in for you to do this each and every day you live and we will be living as Christ lived and loved.  Thanks be to God.

 Sr. Elizabeth Ann Eckert

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Sunday, December 6, 2015

John 13:34-35

I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” . John 13:34-35

The Giver and the Recipients. The Giver, Our Blessed Lord. The recipients are all His disciples. Are there words to describe the silence that occurred at that moment Jesus gave to His disciples this new commandment? That moment of knowledge that Jesus held of His disciples and in turn the disciples’ astonishment that they were given a new commandment of love to go out and live up to the expectation of Jesus.

Some might find adhering to this new commandment of love challenging, yet this commandment will bring out the truthfulness of Jesus’ loving and protective heart for all of us in giving us the strength we so need to love one another. Jesus’ love comes with action that is, to pay more attention to the needs of others, more so, children who go hungry all day; refugees desiring a better home not only for themselves but for all their families, babies starving to death.

May the blessing of this Advent season fill our hearts with gratefulness for the gift of this new commandment of love. 

Beulah Walcott

Friday, December 4, 2015

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Hebrews 10:19-25 

Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23 NRSV
How difficult it must have been for the early Jewish converts to Christianity. They were subject to persecution from the Romans, and even their own kinsmen. Concerned that this could cause them to turn back to their Jewish beliefs and rituals, as some were already wavering in their faith, not joining their congregations for worship, the author’s exhortation was to hold fast to their baptismal hope, renew their faith in Jesus, and to encourage each other.
To reinforce this new covenant, the author uses the analogy of Jesus as the loving way into the presence of God for Christians, just as the High Priest in the Temple entered through the curtain, to the Holy of Holies—the presence of God. This comparison reminded them that through Jesus’ death on the cross their sins are forgiven. They now have eternal life, because Jesus is the full sacrifice, once for all time—unlike the yearly animal sacrifices for forgiveness of sin in their former Jewish faith.
I feel a deep compassion for their plight. In contrast, my conversion from Judaism to Christianity in this modern era, and my choice to worship in the Anglican tradition, in a free country, cannot compare to the experiences of the early Jewish converts. I had a strong history of the Christian religion to learn from, an established church to join, supportive, practicing, and believing Christians, who rejoiced at my conversion; and I did not suffer persecution.

This Advent let us pray for an end to religious persecution in our world.

Phyllis Beauchamp

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Friday, December 4, 2015

1 Thessalonians 1:2-10

We think and speak often of life as a journey. Our hopes, dreams, reflections and questions on “the good life” are never far away. Moving along our path (some or all of which we have not chosen) we are influenced by an endless variety of experiences and people, not all of which are met with comfort and joy.

Reading these verses from Paul to the Thessalonians, I detected a “journey in words”, moving through the steps of: being remembered where we are and what we’ve been through; being reminded that we have been chosen; that we are gifted by the Holy Spirit; that, as a result, we can become examples to others who have not yet found their path or who are struggling to keep on a path.

The road that Joseph guided the donkey along with its passenger was no doubt arduous, long and at times painful because of Mary’s condition. They must have had a deep source of hope that they would get to their destination, despite whatever rough patches confronted them; as well as wherever the road of their lives would lead them after that.

In Advent this unique section of our road of life opens yet again for us to travel, perhaps noting some new insights as we journey with hope to whatever lies ahead for us and our world, and all that lies between. May we each have a meaning-filled journey . . . .

Mary L. (Bunny) Stewart

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Romans 12:9-21 

Ice on convent window
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.”

Few of us will remember with any clarity the names Patrick Sonnier or Robert Willie from the 1970’s—80’s era. In her publication Dead Man Walking, Sr. Helen Perjean, a young Catholic nun wrote a pen-pal letter to an inmate on Louisiana death row in Angola Prison—he wrote back. Patrick Sonnier was later put to death by the electric chair, but not before Sr. Helen had fostered in him a sense of dignity and hope in a God who cares for us all.

Still later she became spiritual advisor to inmate Robert Willie, pleading his case at a Prison Board hearing, only to have it turned down. Her no nonsense yet hospitable manner persuaded Robert that he too can die with integrity and hope with a new found faith in Christ.

Sr. Helen went on to minister to the families of victims or rape and murder, promote Amnesty International to abolish the death penalty around the world. Her own suffering and anguish through all this, balanced by faithful prayer is her constant strength as she continues to this day the work she started.

Janice Barnes

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Romans 8:18-27

From noise and chaos to whispering and stillness, we look with St. Paul upon the mystery of suffering with hope.

Paul compares all creation, including the Redeemed, to a woman in agony while expecting the mostprecious of miracles. He says our pains will be forgotten in the splendour of the revealed children of God: our children, and God's children. He says there is always hope, as long as the fullness of God remains obscured until the right time. To help us bear our waiting, God has gifted us with hope, which opens us to the Spirit and the vision of a better future.

There is so much to wonder at here. There is Paul's unPaul-like attunement to the magnificently constructive experience of childbirth.  He doesn't dwell on the taboos associated with blood and contamination. Instead Paul imagines womankind as holding onto agency and dignity even in extreme powerlessness. The birthing woman groans, but she groans with hope. She claims the universal right to ask for God's help as she faces the unknown. She does not know the future, but she hopes for a future, even a splendid future.

This is a time of crumbling empires, a time of women labouring to bring forth children of uncertain citizenship. It is a time when we, whose hopes have been so often fulfilled, are called to be hope-bearers. Let us grasp the hands of our sisters and, where words and language and even ideas fail, let us entreat the Spirit to speak for us, with hope, into God's ear in God's own language.

 Julie Poskitt